Texas Truck Company Offers Drivers $14,000 a Week

A trucking company based in Fort Worth, northern Texas, is offering to pay experienced drivers $14,000 a week—$728,000 a year—as the U.S. grapples with a nationwide shortage of truckers.

Sisu Energy, which describes itself as a "cutting-edge trucking company," says applicants must be over 25, with at least two years of experience, and must have a commercial driver's license.

Jim Grundy, CEO of Sisu Energy, told Texas TV station KENS 5: "Insurance companies won't insure you if you're not 25 years old, if you don't have two years of experience. So, as a new driver coming out, these opportunities aren't available to you."

Speaking to Newsweek, a spokesperson for the company explained Grundy is "hiring owner-operators of trucks, not just truck drivers like company truck drivers.

"They have to own the truck, and he [Grundy] helps them in the process of acquiring a truck and to get their license," the spokesperson said.

The company's director of recruiting also told Newsweek: "We are frac sand haulers in the oilfield in West Texas. $14,000 is what our highest earners make based on the amount of loads of sand they run."

The U.S. has had a truck driver shortage for more than 15 years, according to the American Trucking Associations.

A shortfall was first reported in 2005, when it stood at about 20,000, the ATA said. This number had "skyrocketed" to around 50,700 by 2017.

The following year the industry reported an even greater shortage, "largely due to robust industry freight volumes."

There are several reasons for the shortage "but one of the largest factors is the relatively high average age of the existing workforce," said the ATA.

The problem has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to the "temporary closures of state DMVs and truck driver training schools [and] dried up the already fragile pipeline of new drivers entering the trucking industry," according to a letter sent to Congress by 117 organizations representing the U.S. supply chain.

"As a result of the already crippling driver shortage, companies in supply chains across the economy are facing higher transportation costs, leading to increased prices for consumers on everything from electronics to food," the April 14 letter said.

The letter urged lawmakers to pass the DRIVE-Safe Act, which has had strong bipartisan support.

The legislation aims to "remedy the nation's growing shortage of truck drivers by promoting opportunity and enhancing safety training for emerging members of the trucking workforce," according to the ATA.

The driver shortages are expected to last beyond this summer, Grundy said. "That's the narrative that you're hearing," he told KENS 5. "That this thing is going to last anywhere from two to four years. And it could be longer because the population's getting stronger."

According to the letter sent to Congress, 70 percent of the country's freight is transported by commercial trucks and the industry is estimated to require an "additional 60,800 truck drivers immediately—a deficit that is expected to grow to more than 160,000 by 2028."

The trucking industry is forecast to need around 1.1 million new drivers over the next decade, to cope with increased demand from customers and to replace retiring workers.

ATA's chief economist, Bob Costello, said in late March: "With the impact of recently passed fiscal stimulus, and the quickening pace of vaccinations in the U.S., we are likely to see continued improvement in the economy which will drive not just healthier freight volumes, but are likely to create even more demand for drivers, tightening the market, so motor carriers need to remain focused on driver retention.

"While the driver shortage temporarily eased slightly in 2020 during the depths of the pandemic, continued tightness in the driver market remains an operational challenge for motor carriers and they should expect it to continue through 2021 and beyond."

This article has been updated with comment from Sisu Energy.

Trucks pulling windwill parts in Texas
Sections of windmills being rolled on trucks down U.S. Highway 87 between Big Spring and San Angelo in Texas. A Fort Worth trucking company is willing to pay experienced drivers $14,000 a week. Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc/Corbis via Getty Images